Our Spirits are Eternal
July 14, 1913 — London Pavilion, London UK
First of all, I want to give a hint to any Scotland Yard men who may be present — any who belong to us, you know, for they had to create a special department in Scotland Yard to deal with the Suffragettes — I want to tell any such who may be here that they need not worry. I am not going to run away. They will be able to get me later on if they want to. Now, I want to explain to this audience that I have no intention whatever of serving the sentence imposed upon me. Why have I no intention of serving my sentence? Because I do no think it is right that any woman Suffragist should be thrust into prison while Sir Edward Carson and all the rest of the Unionist leaders are allowed to go to Belfast and rouse up rebellion among the men and the women of Belfast. What did Judge Phillimore say to us? He told us when we were in the dock that it was not the mere making of militant speeches that counted; it was because militancy followed these militant speeches. What about Sir Edward Carson? He made a militant speech the other day, and what happened yesterday? People were shot; riots were numerous in Belfast. We want to know is the Government going to be so cowardly that they dare not attack Sir Edward Carson and Mr. F. E. Smith, while they are trying to hunt our women up hill and down dale. I want to tell this audience that I, as one of the ”conspirators,” have no intention of serving my sentence and more than Sire Edward Carson.
What the Government Thought.
Nor do I intend keeping out of the movement. I will tell you why. They have said the “Cat-and-Mouse Act” is a success. I say more disgrace to the Government if the “Cat-and-Mouse Act” were a success — which it is not. If it were a success then I say more shame to the Government, and more shame to the electors of this country. Why do I say that I am not going to serve my sentence, and that I intend to continue my work in the movement? Because the Government thought that if they took a few of us way they would stop the splendid constitutional work, for many of those in the dock with me were constitutional workers in this movement. If it was not for our Union there would not have been any constitutional society at all.
Now, what does the Government want to do? They want to send us to prison and keep us there as long as ever they dare. They send doctors in daily to see whether our pulse is just normal; to see how we are in health; to see whether they ought to turn us out, or whether they can wait a few more hours before turning us out; and when we are released they expect that we are going to stay in bed for the rest of the week, to be taken away again. Well, I am not going to do it. I am here against my doctor’s orders this afternoon, but I say this: If I am well enough o be sent to prison to be tortured by the Home Secretary I am well enough o come to the Pavilion. Now, what does the Home Secretary want to do — for you know if you murder in your mind it is just as bad and just as evil as doing the deed right out. You have heard how people poison a person so slowly that no one can detect it. That is what the Home Secretary wants to do. He wants it to be so slow — in prison, out of prison — that the men electors will say that they could really not detect any real intent to murder on the part of the Home Secretary. He means to murder us sooner or later. I say for myself, it has got to be sooner and not later. At every opportunity when I come out of prison, after a few days have elapsed, and I can just stand on my feet, I m toing to take part in this movement; and what I said in the dock I repeat here to-day more solemnly — they have either got to kill me or give me my freedom.
I am Not Going to Run Away.
Now, the third point is this: I am not going to run away. The Home Secretary wants me to go away, but I am going to stay, because I shall embarrass him more by staying than I should if I ran away. We read in one of the leading articles the other day that the “Cat-and-Mouse Act” had succeeded. How has it succeeded, according to that article? First of all, they said we were laid up and out of the work; but I have come here to show them that it is not so. I have come here in sheer defiance, to show the Liberal Government that I do not intend to be put out of the way so quickly. Then they try to make you believe that money is not coming in. That is just in the hope that it won’t come in; but we know that the spirit of this movement is so strong, and we build on such a firm foundation, that whatever they do funds will pour into our coffers. I say to the Home Secretary that I am not going away because he wants me to go. If he did not want me to go I should go.
I have not seen you since the famous conspiracy trial. I ask you, Were we not right in what we said? Nothing ever looked so ridiculous as that trial called the “Conspiracy Trial.” What the Government wanted to do was to stop the constitutional part, because we know that our society is practically the only society, not only of Suffrage societies, but of other political societies, that makes their position uncomfortable and intolerable when they go to the electors. They therefore hoped that they would diminish our constitutional work. They failed to do that, just as they have failed to do everything else.
A Nice Christian Judge.
The judge judge said, in sentencing us, that if Mr. McKenna asked his advice, as was the customary practice, he would tell the Home Secretary that he should not let us out whatever happened. There is a nice Christian judge for you! He dared to talk to us about Christianity! I daresay our souls shine with a purer flame than his! He told us that we shall have to reckon with our own conscience! I think that every Suffragette has reckoned with her conscience long ago. This judge sentenced me to 16 or 18 months — I do not know which, for of course I am not going to serve it — I believe it was 16 months in the third division though he knew perfectly well that we should not do any work when in prison. He knew we should be too ill within two or three days to do any work if we wanted to. How silly it is! What humbug it is for these judges to sentence women to 1 or 18 months in the third division, when they know that we shall never serve these sentences.
As it has been put so clearly, they dare not allow us to die in prison, because they know that if they did there would be another conspiracy trial, and the electors would be the jury, awe should be the prosecution, and the Government would be the defendants, and we know that the case would go against them — that is why they have not the pluck or courage to let any of us die in prison. McKenna is not almighty, He may thin he is, but even MR. McKenna has not the power over life and death. Some day a terrible tragedy will happen in Holloway. Then what will the Home Secretary do, having allowed a woman to die instead of bringing in a measure to give women the vote? Instead of discussing a “Cat-and-Mouse Act” the Government ought to have given equality of voting rights to men and women.
Let Them Face Facts.
The “Cat-and-Mouse Act” will have to be broken down, just as forcible feeding has been broken down. We have got to break down the “Cat-and-Mouse Act.” Now, what will happen if that measure is broken down, as it will be — then what will the Government have to do? They will have to bring in another measure of coercion stronger than the other, or the alternative will have to be Votes for Women. Therefore we say instead of a Liberal Government thinking what coercive measure they can bring against the British women of this county, let them face facts as they are; let them admit that this is the living question of the day. Let them face facts, and say: “We, as a Liberal Government, can no longer bring these coercive measure against women. Instead, we will bring in a measure ad give women equality of voting rights with their men folk.” Would not that be more in keeping with the great principles of Bright and Cobden? The time has come when coercion ought to bring in a Bill to give equality of voting rights to men and women.
Now we come to the heavy sentences that are being passed on our women. Think of Miss Kitty Marion and Miss Giveen! Kitty Marion is an example of what Suffragettes are. Little does she care whether she is to be sent back to prison every day of the week. She is determined to get this question settled.
Why Were Names Suppressed?
A very special case was brought up in the courts the other day. You all know what I am referring go — the case of the woman arrested for keeping a brother in some part of London. What sentence did that woman get? Three months in the second division, while Kitty Marion got three years’ penal servitude! I know what some people will say. The Anti –Suffragists will say: “Oh, you see, when it came to a woman who tried to get young girls to lead an immoral life, they did not give the woman the cat, as they give it to men.” No, my friends. Why? The reason is not to be found in what was brought up in court, but in what was left unsaid. Why were the names of the customers suppressed? Why were the names of the men who buy these girls suppressed? Suppose the authorities found one flaw in our movement, would they suppress any names — would they have tried to keep it away from the public? You know perfectly well that at the “Conspiracy Trial” most insignificant letters were read out in the hopes of getting one little bit of something that might make the members of this Union wonder whether everything was run on straight lines or not. Every little thing was roughed up, all the accounts were gone into. They did not try to suppress anything at our trial; but when it comes to a case like this the Press are asked not to make it public. Does it now show the bad state of affairs that we are living under? Does it not how you the dreadful and miserable state that we have arrived at?
Why, the are afraid of women getting the vote! That is why they had the “conspiracy Trial.” Two articles written by Miss Pankhurst first of all gave them the idea that they had got to suppress the constitutional work of this organisation. Miss Pankhurst asked them two or three questions which they have not dared to answer in the House of Commons — that is at the bottom of a lot of the opposition. As we always say, we have got the clean men on our side, and the best men on our side.
The Spirit Lives On.
It is going to be a fight to the finish, for even Mr. McKenna has had to admit that we have had no more fear of death than the savages in the Soudan. He wanted to make us feel uncomfortable when he called us savages; he knows perfectly well that we are not. He knows that we have no fear of death, because there is nothing to be afraid of. We can never find any place worse than that which we have to live in at the present time.
Then, again, I think that most of us believe that thought the body goes there is something within that lives on eternally. The spirit lives on eternally, and we are just as much part to the great Universe when we have gone over to another life as we are at the present time. And if it comes about that anything happens to any of the women in our midst there will be no fear. We shall be perfectly calm and serene, because we shall know that we have done our duty, and our little bit for the great reform that we re all struggling for at the present time. Therefore I say we can go on quite calmly; we can go on serene in mind and peaceful in spirit, for our spirits are eternal, conscience tell us that is right, ad we shall be prepare to face our conscience and to face the great Maker of all of us.